The Water Draws by Catherine Graham

Donna Ibing's painting Niagara 2
Detail from Donna Ibing’s Niagara II
Enter the open mouth.
Two storied house, once owned by Carver.
Smell of ink. Ghost rush of feet.
Walk the path inside my dream.

There in full throat thunder glory
the bluing, rushing band of whoosh –
A New Path to the Waterfall.
Stand water-awed in Ray’s backyard.

The pulling wet foams tender paths.
Positive ions. The water draws.
Hear the tissue woodcut vista:
ink is falling in Ibing’s Niagara.

Source: The Author, 2004.

Catherine Graham on The Water Draws, March 2004:

Last spring I was commissioned by the Burlington Art Centre to write a series of poems for their involvement in the province wide – The Water Project. One of the artists (Donna Ibing ) created an installation called Niagara II – a large ink and woodcut replication of the American Falls. Very powerful indeed – the ‘Falls’ took up a huge portion of the wall space given to the exhibition!

The poem was also inspired by a dream I had about Niagara Falls and the poet/short story writer Raymond Carver. Here is an excerpt from my notes on the project:

The night before my first meeting with the curator of the Burlington Art Centre – George Wale, I dreamt I traveled to Niagara Falls to visit an Open House. A house (apparently) owned by the American poet and short story writer, Raymond Carver. In the dream I take off my shoes and walk in. Other visitors are milling about. It is quite dark inside. I am drawn to the back of the house. It is lighter there and I hear an ever-thundering whoosh! When I reach the end of the house there is no wall. It is completely open. A small backyard and beyond that, the American Falls: stand water awed in Ray’s backyard. No fences. No barriers.  The view is breathtaking. I wake up.

A few hours later I am sitting in George’s office. While explaining The Water Project, he proceeds to rummage through his papers to show me some of the artists’ work. The first image he shares with me is Ibing’s Niagara II. I am speechless. There on paper is my dream. Whoosh!

A New Path to the Waterfall was Raymond Carver’s last book. A book of poetry written during the last year of his life, he died of cancer in 1988.

Postcards from the Burlington Art Centre Water Exhibitions

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